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Traffic fatalities tick up for first time in five decades

Deaths on our roadways had been going down for 50 years, but last year that changed. The reverse in course may be blamed in part on the growing number of distractions behind the wheel. Highway deaths increased 10.4 percent year over year from 2015 to 2016.

This discussion stretches beyond one blog post. In this post, we will discuss some of the causes for the increase as discussed in a recent New York Times article. In our next post, we will look at changes that might limit these distractions including a 'driver mode' that limits access to apps.

Snapchat speed filter

When Snapshat released its speed filter, which allows a driver to post how fast they are driving, they must have anticipated this could cause freeway accidents. Several fatal accidents across the country have been blamed on the app. In the most recent crash near Tampa, a teenage passenger recorded the vehicle going 115 m.p.h. on Snapchat video.

While Snapchat's user agreement tells users "do not use our Services in a way that would distract you from obeying traffic or safety laws. For example, never Snap and drive." More may be needed to limit the ability of users to access the app while behind the wheel.

Increased connectivity

Most cars, trucks and SUVs come with software that allows a smartphone to connect automatically. Drivers can make phone calls through the vehicle, dictate texts and use apps. A driver can keep his or her hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, but this does not completely avoid distraction. Deborah Hersman, who heads up the nonprofit National Safety Council, worries that voice operated software does not necessarily reduce "the cognitive workload" required by the driver's brain. This is where problems continue.

One driver admitted that even though he no longer has to touch his phone, his focus shifts so much that he frequently doesn't remember the seconds spent giving a voice command. Insurance companies are also convinced that electronic devices are a leading cause of the increase in road fatalities.

The time following the sudden loss a loved one is like walking through a fog. What caused the accident? You need answers. Contact one of the personal injury attorneys at Weisfuse & Weisfuse, LLP who can help you find out. When the negligence of another driver was involved, we will fight for fair compensation. Calling 212-983-3000 is the first step to set up a free initial consultation.

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